The syslog (system logging) protocol is used for monitoring network devices and sending log messages to a logging server (a syslog server).
The syslog server and syslog protocol work together to facilitate log tracking and management.
In this article, you will learn what a syslog server is, what it is used for, and see the best syslog servers available for Linux and Windows.
What Is a Syslog Server?
A syslog server collects syslog messages from all devices in a single location, whether it is a bare metal server, a virtual machine, or a software service. The syslog server usually consists of a syslog listener, which receives and interprets the incoming data, and a database for storing the data.
The server collects, filters, and displays the collected messages from all devices and operating systems. A syslog server can usually store the logs for a long time.
Advanced syslog servers provide automated notifications and tailored responses to detected issues - i.e., to run a script, filter and forward a message, create and deliver a report, etc.
With all the benefits and features of a syslog server, it is easy to optimize device performance and health after analyzing server data.
Note: Deploy syslog software on one of our pre-configured Bare Metal Cloud server instances. Pick the OS supported by your syslog server, and deploy within minutes!
What Is a Syslog Server Used For?
A syslog server's primary purpose is to collect log messages from the connected network devices and store them in a centralized location for monitoring purposes. The server keeps the logs in a consistent format, allowing users to spot performance irregularities easily.
Use a syslog server to improve network monitoring and management by inspecting network specifics and parameters. Automate actions by setting up automatic alerts about a variation in a device's data log. Some syslog servers come with a message severity level indicator.
The benefits of using a syslog server and logging data are:
- Reduced number of alerts.
- Reduced downtime.
- Fewer business interruptions.
- Preventive troubleshooting.
Finally, syslog servers can store event logs for a long time, enabling access to historical events. Various syslog servers rotate logs and create new files periodically, thus keeping the data organized.
Note: Securely connect to a syslog server by enabling passwordless SSH login.
Syslog Servers for Linux and Windows
This section lists the most popular and feature-rich Linux and Windows syslog servers. For a comparison of supported platforms and free trial availability, refer to the table below:
|Unix, Linux, Windows
|Unix, Linux, Windows
|Linux, macOS, Windows
|Visual Syslog Server
|Unlimited trial version
|ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer
|Unix, Linux, Windows
|Progress WhatsUp Gold
|Unix, Linux, Windows
Free Syslog Servers
The following section lists the best free syslog servers:
1. Kiwi Syslog Server
The Kiwi syslog server was created by SolarWinds. It is a comprehensive logging utility that collects syslog events and messages on Unix, Linux, and Windows and generates reports in plain text or HTML.
Kiwi's GUI allows users to easily and efficiently manage logs in a single place. The tool can create network traffic graphics and, optionally, send daily summary emails.
The free edition collects syslog messages from up to five devices and provides an option to set up alerts for various events, including heavy traffic, login attempts, hardware failures, etc. Additionally, Kiwi offers the possibility of archiving syslog messages or forwarding them to a database. The free version comes with a trial of full functionalities lasting 14 days.
The full version costs $329 and offers automation, allowing you to set up actions that are automatically triggered by specific events and a web-based interface for remote management.
2. PRTG Syslog Server
The PRTG syslog server is part of the PRTG Network Monitor application, and it is completely free for up to 100 sensors. The free trial allows users to use more sensors for 30 days but later reverts to the free version. The Syslog Receiver sensor for monitoring and analyzing network traffic doesn't require additional software installations.
PRTG can receive and process up to 10,000 syslog messages per second from network devices and Windows environments. The number depends on the processing power, storage, and overall system configuration.
PRTG offers an intuitive web interface for viewing, analyzing, and filtering syslog messages by type, severity, etc. It also provides message categorization and further filtering to ensure only relevant messages are displayed.
The server offers automation by sending alerts triggered by errors, warnings, or a high number of messages.
3. Syslog Watcher
The SNMPSoft Syslog Watcher is a dedicated syslog server compatible with various devices and software that support syslog sending. The tool collects system log events from Unix, Windows or Linux servers.
The free version allows syslog message collection from five sources, while the professional version supports an unlimited number of sources. Depending on the configuration, Syslog Watcher can handle up to 5,000 syslog messages per second.
Syslog Watcher can collect messages over UDP and TCP and supports IPv4 and IPv6 networks. The utility also enables automation by sending email alerts for specific errors, events, or messages.
Message filtering, storing, and customization depend on filters, the message severity level, and the rules set by the user. Syslog Watcher also offers exporting messages to a database, manually or automatically.
4. The Dude
The Dude is a network management application developed by MicroTik, with a free built-in syslog server. The application offers general network management, while the syslog server captures syslog messages from your devices.
The Dude supports remote logging via RouterOS. It is compatible with Windows-based systems, while on Linux or macOS, it runs using Wine/Darwine.
The server automates maintenance by allowing users to create alerts for specific syslog events or messages and filters.
It includes an auto-discovery feature, automatically mapping nearby devices on the network, which facilitates network building.
5. Visual Syslog Server
Visual Syslog Server is a free and lightweight Windows-based syslog server that monitors incoming data in real-time. It accepts messages via UDP and TCP and stores them on a disk. Previous syslog messages remain on the disk for future analysis as long as the user specifies.
Message filters include filtering based on the host, source address, priority, facility, or message content. Filtering makes it easy to find an issue when dealing with a large data volume.
Users can also configure thresholds for triggering the execution of scripts, programs, or email notifications. Thus, the tool automates problem-solving and reduces response time for pressing issues.
The Datagram Syslog Server is part of the Datagram SyslogServer Suite. Its Datagram SyslogAgent is installed as a service on Windows clients and servers, supporting Windows 2000 or newer systems.
The program provides enterprise-level functionality, capable of log collection, message filtering, alerts, database storage, and log viewing.
The GUI is intuitive and offers a live network view. The filters include the hostname, process, facility, issue severity, message, or even custom SQL queries.
The trial version is free, supports eight logging IP addresses, but supports the Microsoft Access database only. Entries cannot be backed up or deleted, and there are no email notifications. Users can create ten filters and set up to ten alarms.
On the other hand, the enterprise version costs $200 for 50 IP addresses, $500 for 500, and $900 for 5000 IP addresses. The enterprise version allows users to back up or delete entries, supports MSSQL databases, and sets no limit on creating filters or alarms. It also supports email notifications.
7. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer
The ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer is a tool that allows the monitoring of up to five devices for free. It is compatible with Windows and Linux, while monitoring works for various devices running any operating system.
The EventLog Analyzer provides a GUI with a real-time log view and comparison, allowing for quick detection of suspicious messages and possible security threats. The functional dashboard enables users to create custom rules for alerts and notifications about security issues. There are also predefined rules for security event logs.
The auto-discovery feature finds devices on the network and facilitates log collection. Each message is labeled, making it clear which device it came from.
Compression and encryption of archived logs restrict data access to users without administrator privileges.
Icinga is an open-source tool that monitors and reports on device health. This syslog server accepts various modifications that enable it to fit any organization's network monitoring needs.
The syslog tool collects, stores, and organizes data in a time-series database, showing earlier and current syslog data. It instantly notifies the user about any suspicious data, which helps prevent downtime and allows monitoring based on events.
Icinga's web interface provides charts and graphs depicting device health and optimizing troubleshooting and debugging. Its integration with other devices facilitates real-time data collection, storage, and visualization of log metrics.
GrayLog is an open-source syslog server for Linux. The tool is free for 5 GB of data per day, making it an excellent choice for small networks, but it isn't suitable for large organizations.
The server includes a query and search function with lots of filters that enable users to find a specific record quickly. The program interface consists of a fully customizable web GUI with graphs, charts, and changeable basic components for creating a custom day-to-day monitoring environment.
The server has prominent security features with automatic email notifications about failed logins, device faults, or security threats. With in-built automatic IP blocking, GrayLog can prevent an attack as soon as it recognizes one.
The app also offers fault tolerance features, audit logs, and role-based access control, further increasing security.
10. Windows Syslog Server
WinSyslog is a syslog server designed for Microsoft Windows. It supports syslog monitoring via UDP or TCP and it is free for displaying 60 messages at a time, with free troubleshooting support. Paid versions unlock additional features, provide greater security and unlimited device support.
WinSyslog is reliable, highly scalable, and collects syslog messages from any device compatible with the syslog protocol. It maintains device health using the Active Status Monitor feature, which pings the selected device and warns the admin if there is no response.
The server creates a daily log containing the received syslog messages, with customizable size and storage options. Store the file in a database or write it to the event log of Windows NT, 2000, or XP systems.
The program also features an automatic email notification in case of a security issue.
Paid Syslog Servers
The following is a list of the best paid syslog servers:
1. Nagios Log Server
Nagios is a scalable syslog server that helps monitor systems, networks, and infrastructure. While it does offer a free plan, it is only 500 MB/day, making it unsuitable for medium and large businesses.
Other pricing plans are:
- Single Instance. For $1,995, it covers only one installation, which excludes failover. With this purchase, the data plan is unlimited.
- Two Instances. Costing $4,995, it covers two separate installations, which allow for redundant data with automatic failover.
- Four Instances. Costing $6,995, it allows four separate installations, further increasing redundancy and speeds.
- Ten Instances. At $14,995, it allows for ten installations with maximum redundancy and query speeds.
The server can receive logs from a wide variety of operating systems and devices, including Windows, Linux, mail servers, Web and application servers, SQL servers, etc. It is customizable, with configurable thresholds, email notifications, script execution, or alert forwarding.
The dashboard provides an overview of all logs over time, with customizable filters that include the timestamp, ID, host, message, severity, program, etc. The tool generates reports which are also customizable and that automatically update in real-time.
Splunk is a syslog server used for monitoring, querying, analyzing, and visualizing log data in real-time. It is a paid tool with a 60-day free trial that includes syslog features. The server is compatible with Linux and macOS.
Splunk costs $1,150 per GB of data for a yearly 15 GB license, including maintenance.
Splunk features an intuitive and user-friendly UI with real-time statistics and a customizable dashboard.
It includes powerful search functionalities and filters that narrow every search down to the messages the user needs, such as error messages or device-specific messages. Splunk allows users to perform Boolean, quoted string, and wildcard searches in real-time, time range, or transaction level.
3. Progress WhatsUp Gold Log Management
Progress WhatsUp Gold (formerly IPSwitch) is a paid syslog server that comes with a free 14-day trial. The syslog management tool is an add-on to the WhatsUp Gold monitoring tool for Windows Server, and it also receives Windows Events messages.
The price plans differ for a subscription and a perpetual license. For example, the pricing plans for a 1-year license include:
- 5 Servers - $1,325
- 10 Servers - $2,300
- 25 Servers - $5,250
The logging tool receives the log and Windows event messages and files them together. If there are sudden out-of-band increases or decreases, the tool creates an alert and notifies the user.
The customizable drag & drop dashboard shows messages in real-time as they arrive. Color-coded icons and graphs improve the visibility of each message's severity, allowing the team to react immediately.
WhatsUp's interactive interface shows each device's availability and performance, both on-premise and in the cloud.
Logstash is part of a software suite called ELK stack that collects log messages. One part of the stack, Elasticsearch, sorts and filters the messages for analysis, while Kibana processes and displays the data. All technologies in the ELK stack are Linux-based, but work on macOS as well.
Logstash comes in four pricing plans:
- Standard. For $16 per month.
- Gold. Costs $19 per month.
- Platinum. Costs $22 per month.
- Enterprise. Contact the sales team for a quote.
Logstash listens on the network for messages coming from a wide variety of devices, but also supports collecting data from cloud services and applications. It collects logs via TCP or UDP, and it also supports TLS-encrypted messages.
Note: Learn how to deploy the Elastic stack on Kubernetes.
Logstash can read messages from a file or database, get messages from mail servers, IRC or RSS feeds, and pick up SNMP messages. The filters allow users to find specific messages and quickly resolve any issues.
The front-end part of the ELK stack, Kibana, works well for any syslog server.
Loggly is a cloud-based syslog consolidator and analyzer. It doesn't require software installations on-premises but requires setting up automated file transfer procedures that upload the logs to the Loggly server.
The utility comes in four pricing plans:
- Lite. Free, includes 200 MB/day, and retains data for seven days.
- Standard. Starting at $79/month, it limits data to 1 GB/day and retains data for 15 days.
- Pro. Starting at $159/month, data volume is up to 100GB/day, and retains data for up to 30 days.
- Enterprise. With a starting price of $279/month, it includes a custom data volume and retains the log data for up to 90 days.
Loggly standardizes and stores syslog messages from many sources, allowing users to access the data uniformly. Once the data is stored, it is accessible via the log analysis tools in the online service.
Loggly includes storage space with the software purchase, but since it stores data remotely and offsite, it is good to back up the log files on another site to improve system security. Data retention depends on the purchased package.
6. Site24x7 Server Monitoring
Site24x7 is a cloud-based monitoring and management software suite that includes the Log Manager. The Site 24x7 Infrastructure utilities offer a 30-day free trial. A monthly subscription comes with a 500 MB log processing allowance costing $9 with the following possible upgrades:
- 10 GB. Costs $10 per month.
- 100 GB. Costs $95 per month.
- 1 TB. Costs $900 per month.
Although the system is cloud-based, a Site24x7 agent must be installed on the monitored system for the Log Manager to work. The agent is compatible with Linux and Windows server.
When receiving syslog messages, the server standardizes them and files the messages in the same format. Message standardization allows users to analyze messages from different sources together.
The dashboard includes many data analysis options within the log file viewer tool, including log querying, sorting, filtering, and grouping messages.
How to Choose a Syslog Server?
There are several factors to consider when choosing a syslog server:
- Business Size. A paid syslog server is probably a better choice for a large enterprise due to the data volume and device number restrictions of free servers. On the other hand, a free syslog tool can provide the necessary functionalities for small businesses with low device numbers and a small data volume.
- Support. If your organization doesn't have skilled IT staff or if you need help setting up the software, a paid tool usually includes support and troubleshooting assistance. Some free utilities also have basic documentation, but don't offer round-the-clock support and troubleshooting.
- Storage. A better choice for businesses with their own storage capacities are syslog servers sold as a software suite, which are installed on-premises. An on-premises option improves security and lowers the chance of a data breach. On the other hand, some syslog tools are sold as a cloud-based syslog service, which is a good choice if you don't have your own storage.
This article listed the 16 best syslog servers, their benefits, features, capabilities, and pricing. You should now be able to decide which syslog server is the most suitable for your organization.